For our fiber collaboration this month, I had the pleasure of working with Into the Whirled (bio below). This month, I wanted to try my hand at spinning beaded yarn. There are a few ways to spin beads into yarn, but I think I might have chosen the most involved (but most secure) method.
The inspiration for my skein came from the name of the colorway; “Cripple Creek.” As many Coloradans know, Cripple Creek was a hotspot during the gold rush of 1890 founded by Bobby Womack. When I was a child, my grandfather and my uncle wrote a musical called “Bobby Womack and the City of Gold” so the link between Cripple Creek and gold has stuck with me ever since. I chose gold beads for this reason.
What you need
-Fiber: I used two four ounce braids of Into the Whirled 50/50 Bombyx Silk/Merino Blend. Alternatively you can use one braid split in half.
-One 24g tube of glass beads: 1mm hole or slightly larger
–Bulky Plyer Flyer Package – this helps prevent the beads or fiber from getting caught on hooks, and a larger orifice allows the beads to pass through with little contact.
-Slow speed whorl – This helps slow the spinning down to enable more care in the beaded portions of the spinning.
Step 1: Split the braid (or halves) into 1/4″ (or smaller) slivers.
Step 2: Using the needle threader, slip it through the hole of the bead.
Step 3: Pull out a 6-10″-long section of fiber and thread the tip of the fiber through the needle threader loop.
Step 4: Pull fiber through the hole of the bead.
(Click on the pictures below to enlarge.)
It helps to do all of the fiber prep at one time, so the spinning process isn’t interrupted.
If you are using just one 4-oz braid split in half, you may not have extra unbeaded fiber sections, and you may not use all of your beads. If you do have extra fiber, use it intermittently as you spin the beaded single.
Spinning the Beaded Single
Join some of your non-beaded fiber sections to your leader and start spinning as normal, I found that a short forward draw was best with my fiber prep, and with the beads.
When you have some yarn on your bobbin, grab a beaded section of fiber and join to the single.
As you get closer to the bead (fig 1), take a few fibers from just in front of the bead and fold them back to behind the bead (fig 2-3). Allow the twist to travel through/around the bead (fig 4.). Continue this process with all of your beaded fiber sections while interspersing any extra fiber sections here and there until you have spun all of your fiber.
Spin the remaining half of the fiber without beads. Ply the two singles together. Though the beads are secure in the single, plying the yarn adds strength to the overall yarn and added security to the beaded portions. After plying, I was left with an 8 oz skein of yarn (not counting the weight of the beads) that measured 470 yards of approximately worsted weight yarn. This skein of yarn is destined to become a woven wrap, using the yarn in both the warp and the weft.
About Into the Whirled
Into the Whirled started in April of 2009 as a part time business, Etsy shop and all around “pie in the sky” idea. It is a labor of love for both James Shapiro and Christine Eschbach, the couple that run the small Indie Company. Into the Whirled is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains where Cris and James meticulously create colorways in a variety of techniques. Yarns are available in both kettle dyed and hand painted varieties as well as a wide array of different bases and their fiber is offered in both combed top as well as drumcarded batts. Look for them at The New York Sheep & Wool Festival, The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and online at www.intothewhirled.com.